Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors continue to make it difficult for Kevin Durant to get the headlines he deserves.
Those being his impending trip to free agency, of course.
This was supposed to be the year of Durant, where rampant speculation ran roughshod over the internet and beyond. Would Durant join the Los Angeles Lakers and maybe (gasp) entice Russell Westbrook to join him one year later? What about joining Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson with the New York Knicks? Or maybe he’d want to go form a Big 3 with the Houston Rockets by pairing with Dwight Howard and James Harden.
Instead, all anyone can seem to talk about is how Curry dribbles and shoots on a nightly basis and how fun those Warriors are.
Which is fair and quite deserved. USA Today‘s Sam Amick noted the development while breaking down Durant’s eventual trip to the market:
Despite Durant playing at an MVP-caliber level and the Thunder, until recently, playing like the elite team that they’ve always been when healthy, the Golden State Warriors’ dominance has mostly eliminated the non-stop Durant speculation we thought would define the 2015-16 campaign. His support team has plenty to do with that, as his agent, Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports, and manager, Charlie Bell, have kept a tight and deliberate circle while managing to keep the information leaks to a minimum.
Hat’s off to Durant’s team for the smooth work here. Still, folks would hear more and speculate at a higher frequency if the Warriors weren’t running the Association right now. Look at it this way—the San Antonio Spurs are just a few games behind the Warriors and getting zero attention. If they were in Golden State’s spot right now, talk would certainly gravitate toward something more interesting (with all due respect to the Spurs) such as Durant’s free agency.
What’s interesting is just how overlooked the situation truly is right now, with Durant going to market at a time when more cash flow hits the league than ever. Amick broke this down, too, even going so far as to point out the fact that the influx of cash could mean a team like (again, gasp) those Warriors could compete for signing Durant:
Because the NBA’s salary cap is set to spike from $70 million to approximately $92 million – a ripple effect of the nine-year, $24 billion television deal the league struck with ESPN and Turner in Oct. 2014 – top-tier teams like the Warriors that would have otherwise had no chance in the Durant sweepstakes now threaten to steal him away. What’s more, this league-wide development runs the risk of seriously compromising the push for league-wide parity that was such a major part of the NBA’s stance during the 2011 lockout.
Golden State deserves every ounce of attention possible. As the NBA noted, the team is on a run of epic proportions:
— NBA (@NBA) March 4, 2016
Even without the numbers, the likable, innovative bunch out in Golden State has earned the collective eye of the globe. But there’s a beast waiting in the shadows, an Association-altering move coming from Durant, who will either stick with the mid-market team that has treated him so well for eight years or join another franchise and change everything.
It’s a historic moment getting closer by the day, not that Curry and Co. let folks hear about it.
Not that Durant is complaining—he’ll probably thank them next time they meet.